Retaining walls cost shock!

Did I just come down in the last shower?

We need retaining walls.  They will keep the house from slipping into the canal.  We had a provisional sum of $24K allocated to limestone retaining walls.  A lot of money.  We recovered from this first shock long ago, yet we still held a little hope that the actual cost may be less.

Retaining wall design.  Tim Davies Landscaping.

Retaining wall design. Tim Davies Landscaping.

Meanwhile, we’ve had a stylish landscape design drawn up.  Some of that design will be constructed by the landscaping company.  The retaining walls have been passed on to the builders.  The new design is more work than a simple limestone retaining wall – it requires brick work, concrete and render to match the house.  For that, add another $18K!  (Yes, you read it right – that’s $42K altogether for retaining walls and steps.)  I’ve questioned some of the sum – I think there is some doubling up of scope between the builder and the landscapers…  but whatever the response, I don’t think we’ll be getting out of this lightly.

Originally, the landscape company quoted $20K for this work, but since we already had $24K worth of retaining wall work allocated to the builder, we thought we wouldn’t need the landscapers to do this.  Me thinks I was wrong.   (I’m thinking fondly of the days, years ago, when we put in our own limestone retaining wall.  We ordered a truck load of limestone blocks,  borrowed a cement mixer and provided beer and BBQ to a group of friends for a day’s work.  I can’t remember the cost but I’m pretty sure it was under $1000.)  Anyway, watch this space.

Another fairly major change to the house plans this week is an increase in roof height to accommodate the air-conditioning. We need an extra 3 courses height in the roof space to fit in the “fan coil” and ducting.  Fortunately we are not being charged additionally for this, but it does mean that the plans must be returned to council.

We prefer the original roof line shown on the left.

We prefer the original roof line shown on the left.

On to lighter things.  I’ve organised a gas and electricity account for the new property.  I’m quite excited about that.  I’m sure that’ll all change once we receive the first bill.

Finally, about that shower.  Quite possibly I did come down in the last shower.  But if that is the case, it should at least have been a nice one.  Here are a few of my favourite outdoor showers I’ve found on the web this week:

We plan to have a shower in the pool area.  It will need to be mounted on an existing brick boundary wall or be freestanding.  From my quick squiz, prices seem to range from $800 to $2000 (tell them they’re dreaming!)  There’s another reason to teach myself to use Ebay or Gumtree/Craiglist.

*Apologies to my non-Australian readers.  Quite a few Aussie sayings have slipped into the post this week.  This is what talking big bucks does to me.

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25 thoughts on “Retaining walls cost shock!

  1. Wow, that’s a huge landscaping increase! I bet it turns out great. Can’t wait to see final pictures.

    For the showers, I like the first one the best – it looks more like a real shower versus an attachment. But I’m also a fan of copper… so I say the first one’s design but in copper 😉

  2. Africadayz says:

    Don’t even want to comment on the landscaping costs… We also had to increase the strength of a retaining wall to keep our cottage in place.
    Perhaps the roofline on the left is a tiny bit more ‘streamlined’ but the difference is so slight, I wouldn’t worry about it. The comfort of air-conditioning would be worth far more to me than that slight visual change, I think.

  3. The stress of extra cost! Yuck….but it does look very beautiful in the photo so it looks like it will be well worth it.

    All the showers are beautiful. I love the slab of concrete with the shower in it. But I really like the exposed showers. Odd question but what sort of snakes do you have in that area? We have some venomous ones which is a bit of a worry when landscaping. Is that a problem for you?

  4. Free standing shower on some cobbles or pavers, lovely. Plumbing into walls sounds like reinforcement, special grade materials and $$$$’s to me. On this occasion I am not recommending your father’s love of amateur plumbing solutions. He is at this very moment down a 1m hand dug clay trench trying to find a leak in our dam.

  5. Harry Cockram says:

    I can understand your shock about the retaining wall costs, i had a wall 14m x 1.2m made from 1000x350x350 blocks, cost $10,000:00. It was a very straight forward wall on level ground with 1 row of backing blocks.
    It’s not even holding a building up just sand and my fence.
    The house design and the landscape look fantastic.

      • Harry Cockram says:

        The finished product (paid for by the Mandurah shire) which was 24 mtrs long and 1.7 mtrs high cost $42,000:00 plus the fence on top, so if you get away with something around $45k then you will have a pretty good deal remembering yours is a structural wall as well so backing blocks at every level will used and the construction is a lot more complex than mine was.
        I am enjoying reading your posts, you have done some great research.

  6. housenerdmaya says:

    My goodness Johanne! At first I was shocked, but then after reading the other comments, it doesn’t seem unreasonable (Australian construction prices!) I just saw that you are getting Tim Davies to do the hardscaping – they are brilliant! Your house is looking more and more exciting every day. It is going to be absolutely spectacular 🙂

  7. trixee says:

    Ouch! That’s gonna hurt. But it will look amazing.
    On a meta note, how did you get your outdoor shower pics into that arrangement? I’ve tried putting pics side by side and WordPress doesn’t seem to want to do it.

  8. That really is shocking! Get all your followers to fly over to help with it (beer and bbq) – would be fabulous! Showers look stunning – I think the 3rd works the best (a little bit more private) and so perhaps more comfortable to use!

  9. I feel your pain, retaining is ridiculously expensive! We are going through the same thing right now! If you need to work out costs, a rough guideline for blocks installed is approx $50+gst per lineal metre, per course of blockwork. This excludes the earthworks costs so that can send the cost up also. Just remember, that for every block high, you need another block behind, so essentially the portion that is backfilled will look like a set of steps if that makes sense! 🙂

  10. Oh dear. Here was I dreaming that our few retaining walls could be done for the cost of a few snags and beers. Sounds like there is no way around this spend.

  11. Hi Jo. Sorry, been away for a while with computer issues…
    I couldn’t resist the chance to say how lucky I am to have a bricklayer/stone mason/rock artist in the family!
    We had a quote for a retaining wall 10m*1-2.5m for $12,000 in TREATED PINE, most basic design (for a wall down the side of the house that no one sees). So we put on beer and bbq for a weekend and did it with friends (Dad as foreman). It was made with steel H uprights and treated pine sleepers and capping and I must say the boys did a fantastic job (and they had such a good time). Materials (excluding beer) costed $3,500.
    That said, I’d pay the pros for the wall you’ve got! It sounds like a big job that is probably not worth the headache of leaving it until later. Besides, you’ll have plenty of other beer & bbq jobs for your friends.
    We’re currently trying to pin Dad down for a time he can come and alter a Castlemaine rock wall for us (had to knock down part of it to make way for the extension). We could try to do it ourselves, but Dad has the magic touch (not to mention far superior skills). I wouldn’t like to have to pay Dad properly to do it (maybe that’s why it isn’t a priority for him!!). Love Castlemaine rock.
    It’s tricky trying to make the trade-offs. We’ve done all the painting ourselves which has probably saved us $40,000 but oh my goodness, SO much work. I don’t mind the work, it’s just that I have plenty of kids and a husband and sometimes I like to ride my bike.

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